savoury snark

a little bit culinary curmudgeon and a whole lot of love.

30 August 2006

The best meme EVER - 5 foods to eat before you die

Melissa over at the Traveler's Lunchbox has started this madness of a list and why, you didn't really think I'd keep my opinions to myself, did you?

I found the other top 5's very curious. Some were straight to the punch and others felt the need to describe each item in excruciating detail. I found this slightly annoying and not very fun to read so instead I thought of it more as a "What would I want to eat for my Last Meal?" question.

Without further ado, I give list: (insert overly-dramatic music here)

1. A warm, jam donut from the Mock Turtle Teashop in Brighton, stuffed with cream, preferably eaten on a cold, grey day, of which we have many here in England.
2. Curry chip from the Moyola chippy on the Shore Road in Belfast, preferably after a night out on the piss.
3. Potatoes Dauphinoise from the Seven Dials Restaurant here in Brighton. Think of where boxed Potatoes Au Gratin came from and take out all the horrid pre-packaged Betty Crocker ingredients and you're left with potatoes, cheese (cheddar or gruyere), milk, eggs and cream. Baked til crusty and bubbling. If I could bathe in it without getting 1st degree burns, I just might.
4. Broiled crab cakes from Legends Restaurant in Delaware Park in Wilmington, Delaware. Even people from Maryland drive here to eat these beauties. $26 and worth every cent.
5. A Reuben from a Jewish deli. I can't even specify because if we have any Jewish delis in the UK, they sure aren't here. But my god, that combination of pastrami/corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and Russian dressing on rye bread, all toasted and oozing-does it get any better? I once read that Umberto Eco said, "You Americans have done 2 things right-pecan pie and Reubens." Amen.

And now, what about you? What's YOUR top 5?

A day out at Middle Farm

You can read more about this fantastic place here. I just needed an excuse to upload this picture of Stephen a la Homer Simpson: ice cream on a stick.....

Ach lassie, I didnae catch ya, yer American are ye?

Stephen and I made our way up to Scotland recently, Glasgow to be exact. He had a meet-n-greet with some COH players at a pub up there and I went along for the ride. What an experience that was. Most of you know, I'm not a gamer in the slightest. Everyone there was really lovely and extremely excited at all the free COH goodies that Stephen had brought along. I tried my best at conversing with all the Scottish gamers, even if I did need them to repeat themselves over and over. One guy even let me and Stephen try on his hat. That's Stephen on the right there, for those of you who haven't met him yet. EEEEERADICATOR!!

What I discovered in this pub is that it's so much nicer to be able to drink and eat in a smoke-free environment and that they're not afraid to put inflatable sheep in a bathroom vending machine. I love that they felt the need to label it as a FUN inflatable sheep, totally ignoring the fact that anyone who would pay £5.50 for it is most likely a total perv.

Stephen's parents are from Glasgow but I don't think he'd been back to visit since he was a teenager. The impression that I got from this city is that it's quite similar to Belfast in a lot of ways; a small city, once quite poor but now very up and coming. Still, you could see why Gordon Ramsey's posh restaurant Amaryllis totally sank. Poor guy was totally gutted, it being his hometown and all (which I don't get as he has no trace of a Scottish accent whatsoever.) Glasgow doesn't seem ready for that sort of thing quite yet.

We tried our hand at eating at what looked like a snazzy restaurant but left a lot to be desired; the Seafood and Grill. I ordered the filet mignon and nearly choked when taking my first bite it was SO heavily spiced with peppercorn! I love my spicy food but this was a case of some serious over-seasoning. And it was brought to me medium when I ordered it med-rare. I should've sent it back but I'm a sucker. I kick myself when I think I paid £25 for it. I knew we should've gone to the recommended chippie instead.

Also on the agenda for that weekend was a trip to the newly re-opened Kelvingrove Museum, which has just had a £28 million renovation. They'd had 400,000 visitors just in the past 2 months that it's been open! This was truly unlike any other museum I've ever been to.

It was designed to keep you interested; modern art was next to Van Gogh, natural history mixed in with automative, fashion, Elvis and best of all, loads of interactive exhibits for the kids (and those of us that have to touch everything). The most famous piece they have is Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross. I kept looking at it and trying to figure out just why it was so controversial. Because you don't see Jesus' face? Because there's no obvious piercing or blood coming out of his hands or feet? I was truly moved by this picture. I'm no art expert by any stretch but I found the perspective amazing and the contrast of the darkness surrounding Christ and the cloudy blue skies over the fishermen below really potent. It would seem that the lack of blood and pain offends some people but there is more to the crucifixion than this and I think that Dali may have been trying to convey this. Or he could've just been piss-drunk and wanting to cause a stir, who knows? Art is how it moves us and what we take away from it just as much as it is its original intention. In my humble opinion anyways.

After a day out here we decided to stroll over to the West End, right next to the University of Glasgow, where Stephen's brother Alistair went to college. Definitely the more upscale area with lots of open green areas and of course, a Starbucks. Or three. Sigh. We wandered into a lovely food shop called Peckham's. Apparently they're a chain but they had Reese's cups so that's all that really matters. We bought some of the best shortbread I've ever tasted in flavours of lemon curd, pecan praline and coconut.

All in all it was nice to get away for a few days but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that Edinburgh is much more my style.

26 August 2006

Amanda's sabbatical - Day 1

So far today I have:

1. Yelled at the cat to shut the eff up from 6.15 am til 7.20 when I finally got out of bed to feed his sorry ass. Of course now he's sleeping it off. I should go and rub my face against him for an hour and see how he likes it. Somehow I don't think it will have the same effect.

2. Had a light breakfast of saltines and fruit with a glass of apricot juice while watching a repeat of Judging Amy on the Hallmark Channel and Kim Possible on the Disney Channel (I love this show and not just because there is a naked molerat named Rufus who knows kung fu).

3. Got all up in tidying up the flat; swept, sorted recycling, dusted and hoovered the bedroom (much to Senor Kitty's dismay).

4. Made a pitcher of my beloved ice tea (no sugar, lots of lemon). I still have the box that Jill brought me over a year ago since I only JUST got a drinks pitcher.

5. Made plans with Yunhee to go to lunch at 1. I hope she picks Bill's. I was thinking of suggesting going somewhere totally different, like the snazzy new Indian deli that's just opened up the road. It's called - wait for it - Deli India. See what they did there? It's a new place tho which means I'd feel compelled to take pics and blog about it and I just don't know if I can be arsed today. My mission is never done I tell ya!

6. Thumbed through my newest cookbook and have decided to have a go at their version of a light, veggie lasagne. Pics to come.

I'm off now to email my landlady to see if she knows anything about the nutter next door who apparently has been building something for the past TWO YEARS. He drills and hammers at like, 11 in the evening and 5 in the morning! He also used to put his trash on our front step which of course would then be destroyed by the gulls. Oh. I've got my eye on this guy. You better believe it. I'm this close to putting a bag of flaming poo on his front step.

24 August 2006

My local.

Betcha' thought I was gonna post pics of my nearest and dearest pub, didn't ya? Well, until the smoking ban goes into effect here in the UK (probably sometime next year) I won't be seen in too many pubs too often. Granted, the George across the street has a non-smoking section but I can't help feel like that entire place (especially the bunkettes) could use with a serious scrubdown. I worry sometimes that I'm going to go to stand up and find myself stuck like chewing gum on a cinema floor. Still, their nachos rock. I'd thought we'd start with one of my favourite places in Brighton, not least because I want to enter it as a Food Destination for this month's Local Greenmarket competish'.

What I'm referring to actually is the place I drag Stephen (or anyone else) to every weekend for breakfast/lunch/brunch. This place is known as Bill's Produce Store and you can read all about my previous encounters here. In the meantime, here are some pics to tickle your tastebuds:
You see, not only is Bill's a lovely dining experience, it is also a produce shop of a unique caliber (think purple bell peppers and white eggplants, dragonfruits and fresh figs). The walls are lined with their own brand of jams, marmalades, chutneys, curds, and pickles in addition to all the very finest imports, such as Italian provolone cheese and Spanish cooking chorizo. They have takeaway paninis, complete with a piece of fruit for your lunch and they have the most complex and gargantuan desserts I've ever seen.

That sir, is a banoffee pie (think banana + toffee and you get the idea). It looks rather like one of the hats a lady would wear at Ascot but it is actually an explosion of Cadbury Flakes, bananas, walnuts and chocolate all nestled down into a lovely pie of toffee. Their desserts are to be shared only. Grandmom and I learned that the hard way, ie not being able to move for the rest of the day.

My lunch this day consisted of a Buck Rarebit (not to be confused with the Welsh Rarebit, which is essentially an openfaced grilled cheese sandwich with a dash of mustard and Worcestershire sauce). No, this Buck Rarebit also came topped with eggs and ham, as well as cheese. It was delicious. So was my smoothie. No room for pudding but I still was a very happy Amanda this day. I then went and met Delphine and her lovely friends that were over visiting from France. We went to see "High Society" at the Duke of York Picturehouse. We all agreed that although enjoyable, it was no Philadelphia Story. Lovely day with lovely new friends all encompassed by that wonderful English summer weather that scarcely goes above 75.